DANBURY — The North Stokes’ administration quickly went into a two-minute drill over the last couple weeks when former football coach and athletic director Frank Sessoms resigned. The Vikings seemed to have scored the go-ahead touchdown with the hiring of Forbush’s special teams coordinator Jamie Fortner.
“I’m excited and overwhelmed at the same time,” said the newly hired coach. “I want to get to know our players and coaches and start working on the line of communication in what I believe leads to success.
“We don’t want to focus on wins and losses, but about teaching our young men to have strong character and to be able to live in society after graduating from high school. If we do that, the wins and success of our players will take care of itself.”
Fortner was “Mr. Everything” in Yadkin County. Not only was he a member of the Falcon’s varsity football staff for the past eight years, but he was the JV head coach and the middle school’s head coach for the past six years. He also was an assistant on the boys’ basketball team and head coach of the track and field team this year.
During his time at the middle school, Fortner never had a losing season as the head coach and snagged a conference championship in a tough conference that included 4A Davie County.
He’s credited by current West Stokes’ football coach Chris Johnson as the reason Forbush was able to field so many players over the past few years.
“We want to get into the league’s little and middle school programs and start building towards our future,” said Fortner. “It’s important for kids to get to know you and build that trust in what you are trying to do. If you can build a relationship with them early and show that you can be more than just a coach, but someone that they can come to for anything, the numbers will take care of itself.”
Fortner graduated from Starmount High in 1989 and Winston-Salem State University in 2013 with a Physical Education degree. He started his coaching career in 1997 with East Wilkes and then returned to Starmount in 2004. He then joined the Forbush coaching staff in 2013, two months after graduating from Winston-Salem State. He spent his teaching career at Forbush Middle, but moved to the high school last year after Johnson’s exit to West Stokes.
The coach’s road to North Stokes didn’t come easily. When he started coaching in 1997, Fortner worked a full-time job at Lydall-Westex Manufacturing. He spent time working third-shift, coaching multiple teams, going to school to earn his degree, and now is finally reaping the benefits of becoming a head varsity football coach for the Vikings.
Fortner inherits a team that finished 3-4 overall and beat rival South Stokes for the first time in six years. He returns a good core of players including starting quarterback Elijah Cone, running back Victor Martinez and linebackers Ethan Puckett and Scotty Stevens.
Fortner currently lives in Hamptonville with his wife Lavonne and his 16-year-old daughter Meredith. The family plans to look for a house in either east Yadkin County or King in order to move closer to Danbury.
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193